independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Dressedtothenines aptly prominent for Grand National Day

1 April 2013; Racegoer Fiona Sherlock, from Navan, Co. Meath, at the day's racing. Fairyhouse Easter Racing Festival, Fairyhouse Racecourse, Co. Meath. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Racegoer Fiona Sherlock, from Navan, Co. Meath, at the day's racing. Photo: Sportsfile

A FITTINGLY named filly got the Fairyhouse Grand National Day off to a flying start, as hundreds of Ladies' Day fashionistas cheered her home.

It was the emerald green and orange colours of Limerick businessman and owner JP McManus that flashed past the post in the first race of the day aboard Dressedtothenines.

 

"Delighted with her," said the chuffed owner, as peacock feathers, a bit of leopardskin and jewels were waving aboard the heads of the female racegoers flocking around the winner's enclosure.

 

Echoing the words of the family of paralysed Limerick jockey JT McNamara, Mr McManus said he was very much "in our thoughts".

 

"Fingers crossed it all goes well for him,"  he said, after the jockey broke two vertebrae in his neck in a fall at Cheltenham.

 

Mr McManus said the racing community were helping him to the best of their abilities and it was a time that "tests everybody".

 

"They are doing everything they can in the hospital for him," he said.

 

Just as the first winner was welcomed home Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrived on course at 2.45pm ahead of presenting the coveted cup for the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National.

 

Judging was getting underway from lunchtime with former Miss World Rosanna Davison and style guru Brendan Courtney selecting the Carton House Most Stylish Lady competition.

 

"It is great craic," said fashion label creator Courtney, as they pointed out they were seeking a purple hue to this year's winning outfit.

 

"I think it is more of a challenge to dress in layers and look warm but stylish," Davison said.

 

Around 15,000 braved the chilly wind to flock to the track for the highlight of the three day festival at the Co Meath track.

 

Fairyhouse by Numbers

 

* No horse has won the Irish and UK Grand Nationals in the same year though Ascetic's Silver 1904, Rhyme n Reason 1985, Bobbyjo 1998, Numbersixvalverde 2005 have all followed up with  wins in subsequent at Aintree

 

* Champion trainer Willie Mullins has never won the Irish Grand National

 

* Record wins as a jockey is six by the great Pat Taaffe between 1954 and 1966. Ruby Walsh is the only current jockey to have won it more than once

 

* There are 24 different fences in the great race

 

* First run in 1870 and was worth 167 sovereigns or about €180 in today's money, today the race is worth €250,000

 

* 5,000 litres of water are used to cool down the horses

 

* 32,000 pints of beer will be sold at the Co Meath venue over the Easter weekend

 

* 25,000 punters will come through the turnstiles over the three days of racing

 

*Easter Festival will generate €3.6m at the course over Easter which will generate €5.4m locally

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